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USATSI

Fantasy football projections in February might seem a little silly. Truth be told, a lot is going to change between now and the traditional draft season. But it's also true that Best Ball drafts are happening right now, and besides, who doesn't want to start thinking about next season already? Later in the offseason, these projections will be updated and included in our position previews, just like last year. For now, let's just take a look at the first (or second) run and what it's telling us.

The first thing that might catch your eye if you start at the top is Jalen Hurts at No. 7. Even more alarming, he's only eight points from No. 4. I wrote about the Carson Wentz trade and Hurts' opportunity already, but if there's one thing worth emphasizing, it's this: 

Hurts averaged 68 rushing yards per game in his four starts in 2021. That's a 1,088-yard pace. I "only" have him projected for 765 yards rushing. Every quarterback who has started 16 games and rushed for even 600 yards the past 10 years has finished as a top-10 quarterback. More often than not, that's led to top-five production. 

While Hurts' rushing projection seems obviously correlated to what he did last year, the 4,100-yard passing projection may seem too high until you factor in he threw for 847 yards in the three complete games he played. In two of those games, he threw for 680 passing yards. 

Wentz's contract will hamstring the Eagles enough that I would expect Hurts will be playing from behind most games, which should keep his pass attempts high. Any improvement on last year's 7.2 yards per attempt would help push him over 4,000 yards if he plays 16 games. And don't let that big number scare you, a dozen quarterbacks topped 4,000 yards last year and four more were on that kind of pace.

On the flip side of the initial projections is Matt Ryan. You have to scroll all the way down to 24 to find his projection. And the first thing that stands out is his projection of 516 pass attempts. Only once in his career has he played 16 games and throw fewer passes, and that was his rookie year. But while that number seems really low for Ryan it's also 31 more passes than Arthur Smith called in 2020 for the Titans. And in 2019, the Titans only threw the ball 448 times. 

Like Hurts, there are certainly things that could change this projection. I've built it with the assumption that Smith will prioritize running back either in free agency or the draft. If the Falcons investment in the position is lower than I expect, or if Smith speaks publicly about how the Falcons will be more pass-heavy than his offenses in Tennessee, I'll adjust. As of now, I wouldn't draft Ryan in a start one-quarterback league.

Below is the February edition of my projections. There are a few blank spots because there are still a few teams with question marks at quarterback. I did, however, already project Trevor Lawrence on the Jacksonville Jaguars. That one seems safe.